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Mickelson keeps Ryder Cup streak going, and now takes aim at Tour Championship streak

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Phil Mickelson left the PGA Championship as a runner-up in a major for the ninth time in his career, though this one at least kept alive one streak involving the Ryder Cup and another involving the FedEx Cup.

Mickelson qualified for his 10th straight Ryder Cup team, extending his American record.

He picked up enough FedEx Cup points to move from No. 84 to No. 42, giving him the best opportunity of three players who have never missed the Tour Championship. Only the top 30 after the BMW Championship get into the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake.

The others who have never missed the Tour Championship are Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker.

Stricker, playing a part-time schedule for the second year, was on the bubble for The Barclays until he tied for seventh at Valhalla. That moved him up to No. 99. The next question is how much he plays over the next month, more by choice than by qualification. He has an elk hunting trip planned for September.

Mahan is having his worst year since 2006. He had four top 10s through Doral until tweaking his back on the eve of the final round at Bay Hill. Mahan did not have another top 10 all year until a 65-67 weekend at Valhalla to tie for seventh.

He only moved up to No. 59. Mahan will have to play well at either The Barclays or the Deutsche Bank Championship to sew up a spot in Denver for the third playoff event. Also at stake the next two weeks is auditioning for Tom Watson as a Ryder Cup pick.

Five players have never missed the FedEx Cup playoffs since the series began in 2007. All of them — J.J. Henry, Brian Gay, John Merrick, Charlie Wi and John Rollins — are in Greensboro, N.C., for the Wyndham Championship, the final event of the regular season. Henry is at No. 130 and would only need something around 20th place to get into The Barclays. Rollins is at No. 164 would need to finish third.

It's also a big week for Robert Allenby at No. 122. He used a one-time exemption as top 25 on the tour's career money list to keep his card this year.

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STICKING WITH WHAT HE HAS: Tiger Woods has won 14 majors with three swings — the original swing he brought to tour under Butch Harmon, the overhaul with Harmon that produced seven majors in 11 starts, and a new swing with Hank Haney that brought six majors and made him the only player in history to win multiple majors in back-to-back seasons.

Don't expect Rory McIlroy to go down that road.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's my motto," McIlroy said after winning the PGA Championship. "I've always been that way. I feel like the work that I've put into my golf swing from the age of 15 to 20 is going to see me throughout my career."

McIlroy hasn't really changed his swing since he was a kid. Nor has he ever changed his coach.

"There's no reason why I should look to try and swing the club differently," he said. "Whether it's to try and get even better or for a new challenge or whatever it is. I've worked with Michael Bannon my whole life, and I'll continue to do so and it works well at the minute. And there's no reason for me to change."

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MAJOR CUTS: For the third year in a row, Adam Scott was on the short list of players who made the cut in every major.

Scott has not missed the cut in a major since the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.

Also making the cut in all four majors: Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Kevin Stadler, Jimmy Walker, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day, Bill Haas, Louis Oosthuizen, Brandt Snedeker and Francesco Molinari.

Scott, Day, Snedeker and Stenson all made the cut in all four majors last year.

On the flip side was Roberto Castro, eligible for all four majors for the first time in his career. Castro never made it to the weekend in any of them.

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WELCOME TO THE '60s: Rory McIlroy became the first player since Tiger Woods at Medinah to win the PGA Championship with all four rounds in the 60s.

And he had plenty of company.

Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Mikko Ilonen and Steve Stricker each broke 70 every day. The five players with every round in the 60s matched a PGA Championship record set at Riviera in 1995.

It also was the fourth time in PGA Championship history that three leading players were in the 60s all four rounds. The other times were at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001 (David Toms, Mickelson, Steve Lowery); Riviera (Steve Elkington, Colin Montgomerie, Bob Estes); and Inverness in 1993 (Paul Azinger, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo).

McIlroy became the sixth PGA champion with all four rounds in the 60s. That has happened only three times at the British Open and three times at the U.S. Open. It has never happened at the Masters.

And it's a short list of players to win two majors with all four rounds in the 60s — McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open, 2014 PGA), Woods (2000 British Open, 2006 PGA) and Lee Trevino (1968 U.S. Open, 1984 PGA).

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MAJOR FIELDS: Bernd Wiesberger tumbled down the leaderboard with a 74 on Sunday, though the Austrian at least stayed in the top 15 at Valhalla. That assures him a return to the PGA Championship next year as being among the top 15 and ties.

Others who earned a spot in the field next year at Whistling Straits were Marc Warren of Scotland and Brooks Koepka.

The Masters is more concerned with keeping its field under 100 players. Augusta National invites the top four from the other three majors. Because of ties, five players earned spots from the U.S. Open. And because of pedigree, the top four from the PGA Championship already were in the Masters.

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DIVOTS: U.S. Women's Amateur champion Kristen Gillman and Curtis Cup players Emma Talley and Alison Lee have been selected to the U.S. team for the Women's World Amateur Team Championship on Sept. 3-6 in Japan. ... Bridgestone will be the title sponsor of the inaugural America's Golf Cup, a team format featuring members of the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Latinoamerica. Tiger Woods is expected to play for the U.S. team on Oct. 23-26. ... Rory McIlroy has shot par or better in his last 14 rounds dating to Friday in the Scottish Open. ... The 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine will be Sept. 30-Oct. 2. ... Rory McIlroy has had at least a share of the lead in 17 rounds (including the final round) in the majors since his first one as a pro in 2009. No one else has more than five rounds with at least a share of the lead.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Rory McIlroy became only the fourth player to win a major as No. 1 in the world since the ranking began, and the first since Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods won 11 of his 14 majors as No. 1.

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FINAL WORD: "You never know what you're going to get with Phil. But you know one thing — it's going to be exciting, and many times it's going to be spectacular." — Tom Watson on Phil Mickelson, whose first top 10 of the year was a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship.

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